Good News in History, February 25

180 years ago today, French artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir, a pioneer in the development of the Impressionist style, was born. A celebrator of beauty and sensuality, Renoir was inspired by the style and subjects of previous modern painters Camille Pissarro and Edouard Manet.

After a series of rejections, he joined forces with Monet, Sisley, Pissarro, and several other artists to mount the first Impressionist exhibition in April 1874, in which Renoir displayed six paintings that were well received. That same year, two of his works were shown in London.

Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette is a typically-Impressionist snapshot of real life from this early period, and one of his most celebrated masterpieces. The 1876 work depicts a typical Sunday afternoon as working class Parisians would dress up and spend time dancing, drinking, and eating galettes into the evening at the club in Paris’s Montmartre district.

In 1890, Renoir painted the highly successful Luncheon of the Boating Party, with his wife and friends posing as models. The 66-inch wide canvas was purchased from Renoir’s son in 1923 for $125,000 by industrialist Duncan Phillips, who had spent a decade in pursuit of the work. It hangs in his Washington, D.C. art museum, The Phillips Collection and its presence helped to popularize the style among Americans. WATCH a short bio… (1841)

MORE Good News on this Date:

  • Hiram Rhodes Revels, a Republican from Mississippi, became first black member of U.S. Congress (1870)
  • Glacier Bay National Monument was established in Alaska (1925)
  • People in Amsterdam protested against Nazis and anti-Jewish laws (1941)
  • Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev denounced the brutality of Joseph Stalin in his speech, On the Personality Cult and its Consequences (1956)
  • Court rulings banned certain corporal punishment in British schools under the Human Rights Convention (1982)
  • Van Halen’s song Jump started a five-week run at #1 on the US singles chart (1984)

35 years ago today, a new female president, Corazon Aquino, was sworn into office as jubilant supporters in the Philippines cheered the end of 20 years of authoritarian dictatorship under Ferdinand Marcos. Ms. Aquino was later selected as Time Magazine’s Woman of the Year. Before bravely leading the restoration of democracy in her country, she had not held any other elective office.

Photo by Richel King, CC license

A self-proclaimed “plain housewife”, she was married to Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr., the staunchest critic of President Marcos who was assassinated three years earlier. When the dictator called for snap elections, Aquino ran for president with a former senator as her running mate. After the elections were held on February 7, Marcos was proclaimed the winner amid allegations of fraud, and Aquino called for massive civil disobedience. Defections from the Armed Forces and the support of the local Catholic hierarchy fueled the People Power Revolution that ousted Marcos and secured Aquino’s accession.

She served as president for six years, pushing through civil and human rights–as well as economic–reforms. When Corazon died of cancer in 2009, hundreds of thousands of Filipinos filled the streets to say a final farewell to their beloved “Cory”. (1986)

And, 78 years ago today, guitarist-songwriter George Harrison was born in Liverpool, England. His mother, Louise, wanted only for him to be happy, and the shop assistant recognized that “nothing made George quite as happy as making music.” The Beatle who injected Eastern influences and meditation teachings into the ‘fab four’, his original compositions for the band included While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Here Comes the Sun and Something.

A successful solo artist, he released the critically acclaimed triple LP, All Things Must Pass (with My Sweet Lord) and produced the first charity benefit show, Concert for Bangladesh. He also formed the supergroup, the Traveling Wilburys. WATCH him play Here Comes the Sun–with Ringo on drums… (1943)


And, 26 years ago today, Frank Sinatra sang to a live audience for the last time, performing with his band before 1,200 invited guests on the closing night of the Frank Sinatra Desert Classic golf tournament.

His closing song that night, at 80 years old, was The Best is Yet to Come. Esquire reported that evening that Sinatra was “clear, tough, on the money” and “in absolute control”.  The words “The Best is Yet to Come” are etched on Sinatra’s tombstone in Cathedral City, California. WATCH the actual performance below…

Born to Italian immigrants in Hoboken, New Jersey, Ol’ Blue Eyes’ was one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 150 million records worldwide in his six-decade career. He also made millions swoon in films like From Here to Eternity—which earned him an Oscar—and other acclaimed Hollywood movies. (1995)

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